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HRC Launches Digital Archive

You're out of excuses for not having perused its holdings

By Monica Riese, 3:18PM, Mon. Nov. 11, 2013

Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet
Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet

Austin hosts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums and archives, but going to one just got a little easier.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas announced this morning that it has launched a digital archive of some 8,000 of its holdings.

So far, the digital archive includes manuscripts by the Brontë sisters, pieces from P.T. Barnum, scrapbooks by Harry Houdini, and landscapes by Frank Reaugh.

On the one hand, we'd argue there's nothing quite like seeing or (where appropriate) holding the real thing, but in this case, there's actually a slight edge to viewing some pieces digitally. Though the online archive is intended for scholars and enthusiasts who can't make the trip to the HRC, folks viewing pieces on the site get a unique perspective on fragile pieces previously inaccessible to the public and framed works – which are photographed front and back, framed and un-, in order to "create a complete photographic record of the original object." Furthermore, the pages of books are searchable, in a process we wish we could apply to every hardback in our library.

More collections will be added to the archive on a regular basis, and, as always, there's more to see at the HRC itself at 300 W. 21st.

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